From Anarchy In The Burbs (USA)
We want to highlight stories. In particular (and for the intents of this piece), we want to spotlight the story of a Salvadoran woman who was a warehouse worker in the Inland Empire, found in Juan de Lara’s book Inland Shift. Marta‘s testimony reveals the interconnected nature of our concerns, and in her words, she shares with us a story:
“It was a familiar name that brought back memories of hard labor and low wages. She had felt Walmart’s presence long before settling in Ontario. The memories went back to when she was sixteen years old and took a job in El Salvador’s garment industry. Like many other Central Americans and Mexicans, Marta was swept into the wave of development that transformed garment production in the 1990s, when neoliberal free trade agreements turned parts of Latin America into low-wage textile manufacturing zones. She spent years making denim jeans and jackets for Walmart’s retail stores. These vivid memories compounded the harsh experience of her first day as a warehouse worker.
Even though working in a Walmart warehouse involved a different type of labor, the pressure to perform and the bad working conditions were very familiar. Marta explained that garment work reminded her of the harsh conditions inside Walmart’s Southern California warehouse. ‘It is very hard work. They used us like we were robots… We felt the same kind of pressure when we were making that clothes in El Salvador, the same kind of pressure I felt here in the warehouse.’ She went on to compare the working conditions and the quota systems in both places. ‘There we would go into work at 7 in the morning, work all day and night until we met our quotas. I come here and it’s the same thing. The first day that I came to work we didn’t get to eat the entire day.’ Her first day and the traumatic flashbacks it evoked were emotionally and physically exhausting. ‘I was in shock. When I finished the day I had to drag myself home.’
The shirts triggered old memories and helped her realize that the pressure she felt and the injuries she sustained were tied to an elaborate labor regime that stretched across space and time. It was clear that no matter how far she had traveled, she had once again entangled herself in Walmart’s global web of production and distribution.”
Marta’s story reminds us of what is most at stake here: even though we currently occupy a small region known as the IE, we are actually integrated into the complex workings of a global, racial system known as capitalism. Our lived experiences here in the Inland Empire are inextricably intertwined with and shaped by this global system of oppression. As Marta and the author Juan de Lara share, the workings of American empire have historically destabilized the Global South, leading to the uprooting of many migrants who have now settled in what is known as the Inland Empire. And even here, many of us continue to face harsh living conditions, suburban poverty, job precarity, police brutality, low-quality education, environmental racism, so on. The personal is political: our experiences of oppression here are systematically created and are interconnected with the rest of the world. It is our hope that we can one day unlink ourselves from the chains of racial capitalism and the white supremacist state.
Anarchy in the Burbs hope to push for liberationist action and analysis for our people here on occupied Yuhaviatam, Cahuilla, and Maarrenga’yam (Serrano) land – the so-called Inland Empire. We hope that Anarchy in the Burbs can help intervene against these systems of oppression by offering relevant analysis, points of view, and stories to aid us in the struggles ahead. This project began out of the fires of the George Floyd rebellions, and we hope to keep the fire alive by putting out more writing to keep the rebellious momentum going and to fight back harder against the state and capitalism.
What follows is a brief introduction to a new set of series that we will be rolling out through the Anarchy in the Burbs blog. We have 5 series that will each contain a set of small essays and blurbs addressing different issues pertinent to IE struggles. Before we go into detail, we want to repeat that all of these processes are interrelated and connected. Every struggle overlaps with others, and we created 5 different categories not to imply that they are separate from one another, but to better organize the themes of the writings to come.
The “Stories from the ‘Burbs: An Info Series” that Anarchy in the Burbs will begin to roll out (in no particular order) are:
- A Big Picture of the Inland Empire: Geographies, Cultures, and Political Economy
- Living Memory: Voices of the Inland Empire
- Gardens not Warehouses: Anti-Warehouse Analyses, Struggles, & Testimonies
- Archives of the Burbs: Inland Empire Histories
- The Epicenter of the Web: Inland Empire Logistics in the Global Economy
Again, these are all interrelated phenomena and are not just limited to the region of the IE; these are processes embedded within and personal experiences shaped by capitalism and systems of oppression. Referring back to Marta’s story, our personal experiences are not separate from worldwide systems of oppression. Our place here in the Inland Empire is a unique and particular placement within the gears of the machines known as global capital and global white supremacy.
We hope to share stories, histories, and lived experiences that can help shape on-the-ground organizing and movement building. As we’ve learned from community, storytelling allows us to share with others and build common knowledge to work together from. Stories allow us to build bridges and build affinity with others. Affinity and community-building are prerequisites to any sustainable movement that wishes to eradicate capitalism and white supremacy from this planet, and we must share our stories and build common notions in order to become an autonomous power.
Our upcoming writing series on this blog is our humble attempt to play a part in the construction of a new world here in the IE and everywhere that injustice exists. Please stay tuned!
Also, if you have any further questions or would like to send us your submissions for us to add to our writing series, please get in contact with us! If you’d like a PDF of the book Inland Shift, please also contact us @ ieuprising at protonmail dot com (firstname.lastname@example.org).